Credit Card Bill Expected To Pass Today
Politico reports Senate expected to pass credit card reform bill today as President demands final bill by Friday. Banks respond, reports NYT, by “going after those people with sterling credit.”
New Fuel-Efficiency Standard, May Boost Climate Bill
“Starting in 2012, U.S. cars and trucks will have stricter fuel emissions standards — up to 39 miles per gallon for cars and 30 mpg for trucks by 2016 — under a proposed new standard President Barack Obama plans to announce Tuesday … As part of a deal with automakers, California agreed that it would defer to the national standard and would not establish its own tougher emissions rule … U.S. automakers had insisted on a uniform national standard, arguing that it would be impossible to comply with different state rules … The national program would reach the same goal in emissions reductions that California sought by 2016 but would start more slowly … The program will save 900 million metric tons of greenhouse gases through 2016, the equivalent of shutting down 194 coal plants…”: McClatchy
FT on expected fuel-efficiency announcement today: “A senior administration official on Monday said that the new plan would bring ‘historic levels of fuel efficiency,’ introducing the first rules designed to reduce carbon emissions from cars and accelerating by four years an existing plan for new vehicles to achieve an average of about 35 miles per gallon by 2020. The corporate average fuel economy standard, which was first introduced in 1975 as a response to the oil embargo imposed on the US by Arab oil producers, had been due to rise from 25.3mpg today to 35mpg by 2020 but the new efficiency target would rise to 35.5mpg between 2012 and 2016.”
“The proposed plan is expected to add about $600 to the cost of a car, the official said. That’s on top of $700 added by changes to fuel economy rules that have already been recently enacted, the official said, but consumers should be able to save enough in gas to make up for the cost.”: CNN/Money.com
CQ analyzes: “Lobbyists and energy experts said the White House’s expected announcement of a more stringent vehicle fuel economy standard boosts momentum for climate change legislation being marked up in the House this week.”
Climate compromise picking up support from fossil fuel state Dems in House Energy cmte. Bloomberg: “Several lawmakers who criticized an early draft of the measure threw their support yesterday behind the bill … “I’m going to defend it against even amendments that I would love to have from the Republican side,” said Representative Gene Green, a Texas Democrat. Representative John Dingell of Michigan, the committee’s former chairman, endorsed the legislation yesterday, as did Democrats G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina and Bart Gordon of Tennessee.”
CQ adds: “House Democrats are closing ranks over energy legislation that appears likely to win committee approval this week, despite Republican efforts to lure moderates to their side.”
Climatewire reviews obstructionist amendments planned by Republicans and remaining sticking points with some Democrats.
“The [Senate energy] committee is tentatively scheduled to mark up draft language May 21 that would create a national renewable-electricity standard, requiring that 15 percent of the nation’s power come from renewable sources such as wind and solar by 2021 … The House Energy and Commerce committee this week is marking up a broader energy and global warming measure (HR 2454) that includes a similar renewable-electricity mandate.”: CQ
Big Oil stepping up its lobbying efforts: “Overall, oil and gas industry players spent $37.3 million to lobby the federal government in the first three months of this year, 52 percent more than they did on average for the quarterly reporting periods in 2008, according to a CQ analysis of lobbying disclosure reports recently filed with Congress.” Surprise, “Oil Industry Blasts House Climate Bill”: NYT
Buy Fuel-Efficient, Buy American
OurFuture.org’s Roger Hickey: “I pledge that soon I will buy a new, fuel-efficient car—built in America by United Auto Workers members. I’m asking YOU to take this pledge with me and get others to do so, too.”. Meanwhile, “As Detroit Crumbles, China Emerges as Auto Epicenter” reports W. Post.
HuffPost’s Leo Gerard: “Build More Autos Overseas: Marginalize More U.S. Families” “Workers … are taking the message to Washington D.C. this week for a teach-in to explain how crucial manufacturing is to the economy of this country and how essential manufacturing is to construction of automobiles in this country, not just the final product, but also all those products leading up to the final car — from glass for windshields to glossy paper for brochures. We are going to try to explain that 7.2 million paychecks are dependent on U.S. autos, including health care, education, service and other jobs, so that the politicians and policy makers understand clearly that the very idea that General Motors would ask for taxpayer dollars to ship more car manufacturing overseas – and then import the cars – is an insult and an affront to American workers – as well as an economic threat to the country.”
Health Care Revenue Raisers Outlined
“The Senate Finance Committee provided an early glimpse of ways Congress might pay for the overhaul of health care President Barack Obama wants, outlining a range of options that included new taxes on employer-provided health insurance and levies on sugar-sweetened drinks.”: Bloomberg
Politico looks at momentum behind individual mandate and also at new revenue raising proposals being considered by Senate leaders.
Change.org’s Tim Foley reacts: “Notice what’s missing here: the political sense of expediency and cowardice. Ditto the bellyaching that prevention, or Health IT, or costs derived from insurance market reform aren’t being ‘scored’ generously enough in place of real, tough financing options. Put another way, any one of the ideas is going to send some lobbyist to the Hill, screaming bloody murder. Cap the rate of inflation in Medicare, and some caregiver, hospital, clinic or nursing home will complain that whatever is determined to be the ‘savings’ from efficiencies and tech is way too optimistic. Threaten an excise tax on domestic alcohol and expect the King of Beers to quickly hire the King of Lobbyists. Even look cross-eyed at the tax shelters for the moderately to completely wealthy that HSAs have become and several fellow members of the Senate are likely to want to rip your face off.”
“A labor coalition is mounting an unusual assault on a Democratic Senator, Ron Wyden of Oregon, over his proposal to pay for health care in part by taxing health benefits … The public workers’ union AFSCME is leading the campaign, which will include radio, direct mail, phone calls, and canvassing in Oregon, as well as a new website, Stop Wyden’s Health Tax … The campaign is a shot across the bows of other Democrats, notably finance Chairman Max Baucus, that labor unions won’t be shy about attacking Democrats who scale back Obama’s promised plan. The ad is also the latest sign that the groups with an interest in health care reform see the passage of a plan this year as likely, and are battling over key provisions of likely legislation — the tax plan, and the presence or absence of a public option.”: Politico’s Ben Smith
Insurers Planning on Double-Crossing Obama … planning on making videos (which could be turned into ads) to try and kill the public health insurance option, the only real way to control costs.”: HCAN’s Jason Rosenbaum
“More employers are citing the recession for shifting a bigger portion of their health care costs to employees in 2009, an industry report said Monday. American workers have seen an average increase of 10.6% over the past year in the amount they spend on health care services, according to health care consulting firm Milliman’s fifth annual Milliman Medical Index (MMI). The $650 increase includes $500 for employee contributions to their company’s health plan and $150 for employee out-of-pocket expenses.”: CNN/Money.com
TARP Paybacks May Begin, Will Taxpayers Benefit?
“Bankers said they expected the Treasury and Federal Reserve … to name the first [TARP] repayers in the next few weeks. The authorities decided to allow a group of banks to return the funds, rather than approving individual applications, to avoid a ‘rush for the exit’ by lenders vying for bragging rights of being the first to repay, said people close to the matter. The timing of the repayment and the number and identity of the banks in the first wave is still under discussion. Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and American Express, which were found not to need additional equity in the recent stress tests, are almost certain to be in the first grouping.”: FT
“Goldman Sachs Group Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Morgan Stanley applied to refund a combined $45 billion of government funds, people familiar with the matter said, a step that would mark the biggest reimbursement to taxpayers since the program began in October,” reports Bloomberg.
NYT reports that paybacks may not benefit taxpayers: “At issue are so-called warrants that the government received from the banks last autumn … warrants give their owners the right to buy stock at a set price over a certain period of time, in this case, 10 years. Now, with many banks itching to return their bailout money, the warrants are raising some thorny questions. What are these investments worth? … Many banks want to buy back the warrants and wriggle free of the government … But as long as the government holds the warrants, it still has some leverage over the industry. For taxpayers, a lot of money is at stake…”
House passes Senate version on investigative commission into financial crisis, bill will now go to the President.
“Financial sector executives should not fear government imposed caps on their salaries even as the Obama administration moves to influence how firms pay their employees. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Monday that government should place ‘broad constraints’ on the incentives that huge pay packages create for executives to take short-term risks. But he drew the line at government determining levels of pay … Geithner said government standards could require that incentive pay be tied to long-term performance. He said such standards could combine with compensation disclosure requirements and giving shareholders the ability to vote on salary packages – a practice known as ‘say on pay.’”: AP
Corporate Lobby Flexes Influence on Labor Law
LA Times recounts how corporate lobbies pressured Democrats to back away from Employee Free Choice: “When it came to key senators, business interests outmuscled labor. [Sen. Blanche] Lincoln, for example, reported overwhelmingly more calls and letters from business interests and their supporters than from the union side. And thanks to ‘airlift’ programs run by the Chamber of Commerce and allied groups, some key senators received far more personal visits in Washington from card-check opponents than from supporters.”
Anti-union rep Brian Worth attacks potential compromises in W. Post oped.
Salon.com’s Michael Lind on response to Social Security trustee report: “Libertarians and conservatives react to the latest undramatic report on the trust fund’s health by marshalling frightening, meaningless numbers.”
“After what he called ‘very productive’ talks with Panama on labor and tax issues, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said Monday that the Obama administration is working toward getting a stalled free-trade agreement to Congress for implementation … Sander M. Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the House Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee, has raised concerns about Panamanian labor laws and banking secrecy laws, cautioning that those issues must be addressed before the deal is sent to Congress. Kirk said both countries are working to resolve the issues.”: CQ
Terrance Heath contributed to the making of this Breakfast.